A MAN accused of murdering a teenager whose body was dumped down a drain in Chelmsley Wood 24 years ago is to stand trial next year.
Mark Philip Masefield (43) of no fixed address, pleaded not guilty at Warwick Crown Court to the murder of 18-year-old Anthony Pryke between August and December 1987.
The dates in the charge reflect the last time the Chelmsley Wood teenager was seen before he went missing and the date his body was found.
The gruesome discovery was made when council workmen checked a drainage shaft behind an empty house in Bluebell Drive, Chelmsley Wood, after neighbours had complained about a blocked sewer.
It was believed Anthony’s body may have been there since August that year; and no cause of death was established at the time, and no-one charged with his murder until Masefield was arrested in August this year.
After Masefield had entered his not guilty plea, Mr Justice Julian Flaux pointed out: “This defendant admits that he killed him, but his defence is self-defence.”
He said there were therefore a number of witnesses whose evidence could be read or presented to the jury as agreed facts during the trial which, is expected to last seven days.
Michael Duck QC, defending, said it was likely he will advise the defence solicitors to obtain an independent pathology report, at which the judge asked: “What is the pathologist going to do? The body has been cremated.”
Mr Duck said he would be able to examine the case notes of the original pathologist and of a second pathologist, Dr Peter Acland, who has also prepared a report.
Mr Justice Flaux observed that one of the questions raised was whether a head injury had been caused before Anthony Pryke’s death or by ‘the unfortunate labourers who were trying to clear the drain.’
He adjourned the case for a further hearing to take place in January, and extended the ‘custody time limit’ – the period a defendant can be kept in custody before standing trial – until that hearing.
And he said he would ‘pencil in’ March 21 as a trial date, with the trial taking place at either Birmingham or Warwick Crown Court.